Stoke-on-Trent escapes for now

by Property 118

10:09 AM, 13th August 2019
About 3 months ago

Stoke-on-Trent escapes for now

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Stoke-on-Trent escapes for now

All councils that wish to introduce Selective Licensing schemes that cover more than 20% of the area or 20% of the privately rented homes must first seek permission from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). Stoke-on-Trent have recently had their application refused by MHCLG for a scheme that would cover 3000 properties in 154 street in 14 zones costing £500 for a five year licence per property.

It is not yet clear why MHCLG refused the application with the government response that: “After careful consideration, Stoke-on-Trent’s recent application for a selective licensing designation was not confirmed. The department did not agree that the statutory criteria set out in section 80(9) of the Housing Act 2004 had been fully met. The decision cannot be appealed, but the local authority can reapply”.

A statement from Stoke-on-Trent council said: “We can confirm we have received notification from the government department on this. We are in dialogue with the department about the decision.”

To justify the scheme application the council surveyed over 600 properties in the area indicating that the standard of disrepair was higher than the PRS average. The original application said: ““It is considered that there are no other courses of action which will achieve the objectives of improving housing conditions and management practices as efficiently and effectively as the designation of the 14 proposed areas.”

The RLA raised several concerns at consultation stage including:

“Selective licensing schemes do little but alienate lawful landlords by burdening them with additional costs, while criminal operators continue to ignore regulations and avoid these additional costs. The proposed standard licensing fee of £523, even with the discounts, is an unnecessary financial burden to put on landlords.

“There is little evidence to show that licensing schemes improve housing standards

“The Council already has the necessary tools to tackle poor housing management and conditions in the private rented sector, for example the powers granted to them under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.”



Comments

David Lovegrove

15:24 PM, 13th August 2019
About 3 months ago

The private stock condition survey that the authority commissioned to identify poor housing conditions indicated that the majority of category 1 hazards were confined to 3 of the 14 areas proposed.
1 of the 14 proposed areas covering 20% of the total proposals was not included in the survey. There were some 3,000 properties outside the proposed areas with cat 1 defects but no resources to address these issues.
Another area covering a further 20% of the total proposals was included because it was a student area and where properties are empty outside term. This area has little ASB & high property prices.
The survey further indicated that property conditions inside the city had substantially improved during the last 10 years though private rented property in the area had doubled in that time.
The pilot scheme that the city introduced recorded that only 339 licences were issued from 539 privately rented properties and it ran at a loss of £70,000 excluding any contribution to office overheads. The 2 further schemes where designation ended last week are likely to have lost further monies but the authority refuse my FOI requests due to the number of previous requests submitted to obtain information on other issues relating to these proposals that were not included within their business case. The consultation results showed that overall across the city, the majority of residents objected to the proposals but the authority then only took the views of the residents who they say, lived within the proposed 14 areas into account. No letters were sent to surrounding areas which in itself seems to me to be a contravention of Government guidelines.

David Lovegrove

14:49 PM, 14th August 2019
About 3 months ago

Is anyone else aware of which other authorities ,if any, have reapplied for a selective licence designation following its initial refusal ?

Luke P

14:59 PM, 14th August 2019
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Lovegrove at 14/08/2019 - 14:49
It's perhaps too early...the new administration seems to be the ones providing light at the end of the tunnel. May's shambolic Govt. were approving them left, right and centre.

Martin Thomas

8:09 AM, 16th August 2019
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Lovegrove at 13/08/2019 - 15:24
David - which organisation carried out the housing stock condition survey? Was it BRE? If so, then it will be a desktop exercise based partly on information that could be up to 10 years out of date such as the EPCs. Such surveys do not actually go out and examine individual properties and have been used by local authorities to justify the introduction or continuation of licensing schemes such as Bristol and Bath plus I'm sure, others. These local authorities can't be bothered to do the leg work to show that properties in the PRS really may have poor conditions so it's the easy way out and needs to be challenged.

David Lovegrove

20:16 PM, 17th August 2019
About 3 months ago

Martin, it was David Adamson & Partners from Edinburgh.
193 dwellings inside the proposed licensed areas ( from around 5,000 properties) were recorded to contain cat. 1 defects and 3,027 outside !
They quote poor insulation in pre 1919 properties but offer no funding for wall insulation.
50% of households were recorded never to have changed energy supplier and this presumably is partly the reason for high levels of fuel poverty that the authority wishes to tackle.
Is licensing likely to address these issues !


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